Our practical and contemporary approach to novel writing ensures you are able to hone your writing skills and develop your book while also identifying gaps in the market and how to approach agents and publishers.
This course is divided into five modules taken over three terms (if studied full time) which take you through the full process of writing a novel. While exploring in depth such key techniques of fiction as plotting, narrative voice, characterisation and background research, each module is also designed to be flexible and to allow you to bring your own writing interests and projects to the assignments, extending the boundaries of your current practice through self-reflection, research, analysis, and creative exploration.
This module explores key writing techniques such as narrative, setting and characterisation, with reference to literary examples and the different methods used by writers in the creative process. This is an opportunity for you to explore the scenes and characters of your planned novel or develop a variety of ideas and approaches if you have not decided on the content of your story.
Building on the 'Reading as a Writer' concept (most famously explored in Francine Prose's book), this module explores how published writers handle the technical and ethical problems which are likely to present themselves in your writing. Through a combination of weekly 'practical criticism' exercises and an online 'book group' you will develop the analytical skills to improve your own writing and the problem-solving techniques to overcome any obstacles in your approach.
This module explores the methods fiction-writers employ to research elements of their stories, as well as investigating the reasons why research is necessary – to provide authenticity, to avoid error, to create verisimilitude, and even to get inspiration. You will also learn about researching the possible markets, audiences and publishing outlets for your creative work.
This module moves on from the 'portfolio' focus of earlier modules to deal with the challenges of working on a specific novel. Through a series of writing exercises you will begin to evolve characters, explore themes and refine settings for your planned novel. This is an opportunity for you to begin the sustained prose narrative that is expected in the following dissertation.
Your final dissertation is an opportunity for you to take all the knowledge and skills you have acquired in the preceding modules and apply them to 20,000 words of an original novel with a synopsis for sending to an agent or publisher and an accompanying critical commentary.
You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Module and programme information is indicative and may be subject to change.
This course is an online distance learning programme, so all teaching and learning is done online. You will have an online tutor for support and guidance throughout the development of your novel, and will also develop a virtual writers' group to share writing in progress.
You will meet, work and study with your fellow course participants and tutors in a virtual space which provides you with the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime you have an internet connection and on a variety of devices. Our Virtual Learning Environment encourages you to share your writing, interact, question, and participate with others on your course, ensuring you never feel as if you are studying in isolation.
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Assessment is on the basis of creative work, including a 15,000-word final submission, along with reflection on the writing process in the form of discussion posts, on-line learning journals and critical commentaries.
Adam has published four novels and two non-fiction books, has worked as a TV Producer/Director, and is a regular fiction reviewer for the Sunday Times.
Lorna’s debut novel, A Ghost’s Tale, was published by Granta in 2015, and she is also the author of the biographies Lady Hester and West’s World.
I began from the premise that I wanted to be able to do two things after the course: write a a reasonably "good" novel and move into teaching creative writing. I am happy to say that I have already embarked on both.
The programme has given me the tools, confidence and contacts to start to make a career out of writing.
Throughout the course, I stepped outside my comfort zone and found a writing voice I did not know I had. The support of my peers and tutors made that possible.